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< Entertainment >


America's Thanksgiving Parade: 2006 Parade Attracts Many First-Time Spectators


This group of fine individuals will lead America's Thanksgiving Parade.

by Jason Rzucidlo

DETROIT – Hundreds of thousands of people from all across Michigan and the region lined the streets of Woodward Avenue for the 80th edition of America's Thanksgiving Parade. Many of these parade-goers came for their first time or brought their kids to the parade to experience it for their first time.

Whoever you came with, it was a great time for all. It's nice to see everyone coming together to enjoy such a wonderful event. People from all ages, races and ethnic backgrounds were watching the parade in person. One might think the parade is just for kids. It can be very fun for teenagers, adults and senior citizens to sit back and watch the entire parade go by.

The weather at this year's parade was fantastic. Normally on Thanksgiving morning, it would be freezing cold and possibily even snowing. At the 2006 parade, the weather cooperated in a big way. It was sunny and clear for most of the parade. The temperature was very warm with the high in the mid-50's.

America's Thanksgiving Parade celebrated it's 80th birthday. It all began in 1924. The parade took two years off during World War II. The parade route matched the exact route the parade followed back on day one. It started at the intersection of Woodward and Mack and headed south to Congress Street. The Distinguished Clown Corps. passed out 80,000 plastic coin pouches to the spectators. Inside, you would find coupons to area businesses or you could have been one of the 10 lucky grand prize winners. There was a new float this year to commemorate the parade's 80th birthday with a huge cake on it.

This year's parade includes many of the annual favorites. There was Clownie, The Fred Hill Briefcase Drill Team, The Mid American Pom Pon All-Star Team, several marching bands, lots of floats and balloons. The parade was also filled with lots of local celebrities who "came home" for the 80th birthday of America's Thanksgiving Parade. Karen Newman sang her hit "Christmas Eve on Woodward Avenue" during the Parade Preview on WDIV Local 4. Jeff Daniels also sang a Christmas tune as the parade kicked off at Woodward and Mack.

Other celebrities who appeared in the parade include pop/rock musician Andrew WK, The Contours, two stars from CW's 7th Heaven, Keith Famie (chef and Survivor contestant), Miss Michigan, Miss Teen Michigan, KEM (Detroit singer, songwriter, musician and producer), Mary Lynn Rajskub (star on FOX's 24), Naima Mora (winner of America's Next Top Model). At the very end of the parade was Santa Claus himself.

Karen Gerby is a resident of Northville, MI. It was her first time at America's Thanksgiving Parade. She arrived at 7:30 a.m. and was one of the lucky ones to purchase a ticket to sit in the grandstand. Her favorite part of the parade is to see Santa Claus.

Deborah Schwartz came to the parade with her sister, daughter and great nephew. They are all from West Bloomfield, MI. It was their first time to be at the parade. They've never even watched it on TV before. Schwartz enjoys seeing "the princesses and Santa."

Chris Eng was one of the balloon operators dressed as a clown. He is a student at U of D high school. He said the entire hockey team volunteered at the parade to help move the balloon down Woodward Avenue. Eng said, "he's been to it [the parade] before but it was his first time being in it."

Rik Sheikh is a resident of Eastpointe, MI. It was his third time at America's Thanksgiving Parade and he arrived early at 6:30 a.m. He came with his wife, two daughters, next door neighbor and some additional friends. Sheikh enjoys, "the floats that have songs on it. Santa Claus. I like to see all the people get together and have a good time."

Dorothy Gamble is from Madison Heights, MI. She arrived at around 7:30 a.m. in the morning. When asked if it was her first year at the parade, she said, "No we come every year. It's probably our 10th year." Gamble enjoys seeing the new floats. She came with her sister, niece and two of her cousins.

Tracy Fressel is a resident of Allen Park, MI. She's been coming to the parade for the last 10 years as well. Fressel came to the parade with "my family and friends. There's about 25 of us." They enjoy seeing the briefcase drill team. Fressel arrived at 6:30 a.m.

Rob Howell is a Michigan resident who just came back from spending 6 years at missionaries in Africa. It was his very first time at Amercia's Thanksgiving Parade. What does he like best? Howell said, "The floats. The kids want to see them."

Andrea Murray came to the parade from Pinckney, MI. It was her second time at the parade. She came with her son and seven of her cousins. Their favorite part of the parade was Santa. Murray added, "We loved the caterpillar."

Heather Messing is from Romeo. It was also her first time at the parade and she got there at around 7:45 a.m. She came with her four kids, some cousins, grandma, and some aunts and uncles. Their favorite part of the parade was also the man in the big red suit. Messing said, "The balloons are fantastic!"

Larry Campbell came from Macomb, MI. He arrived to the parade at about 7:30 a.m. He came with his wife and four kids. Campbell said he enjoyed "the spinning of the balloons, the briefcase men and the bands." It was his second time at the parade with his wife. However, it was the first time that he brought the kids to see it.

Patrick Shook is a resident of New Haven, MI. He arrived at the parade at 6:30 a.m. It was his first time and he enjoyed "the balloons, floats. I like the briefcase drill team. Those guys are cool.

Amber Allum is a teenager from Harper Woods, MI. She has been going to the parade "since I was a baby." Allum came with a group of 10, mostly friends and family. She enjoys seeing "pretty much everything. Captain Underpants for balloon."

Mr. Lambeau volunteered as one of the clowns in the parade. He's got 20 years of experience in the clown business. Lambeau has been participating in America's Thanksgiving Parade for 10 years. He even attended a clown school in Lansing. He enjoys working for the circus.

Tim Labie is a resident of White Lake. He arrived at America's Thanksgiving Parade at 7:00 a.m. He comes to the parade almost every year. His favorite part of the parade is "Santa. I like it all!"

Amy Peltz is from Sterling Heights, MI. She has been attending the parade for the last two years in a row. Peltz's daughter is one of the members of the Warren Mott marching band which was in the parade this year. Peltz arrived at around 7:30 a.m.

America's Thanksgiving Parade is a fun time for all. Watcing the parade on TV is alright but seeing it in person is magical! If you couldn't make it to the parade this year, I would strongly recommoend for you to come down and see it next year. It's great for all ages from young to old.

A special thank you goes out to The Parade Company and Lovio George Inc. for allowing us to cover the event on Woodward Avenue.


2006 Grand Marshal Nicklas Lidstrom rides on the "Let Freedom Ring" float.



The Mid American Pom Pon All-Star team performs on Woodward Avenue. The squad is made up of 240 members.

[ Return to our coverage of the 2006 America's Thanksgiving Parade ]


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